Issue #10 | 2024 Wimbledon Preview

Issue #10 | 2024 Wimbledon Preview

Wimbledon 2024 is upon us and is about to serve up a storm of excitement and intrigue over the next two weeks. From the hustle and bustle of the All England Club to the electric energy in the air, this year’s tournament promises to deliver like it always does. 

The courts are prepped, the players are primed, and the drama is inevitable. Whether you watch for the rising stars, the seasoned pros making their last stand, or the unexpected rivalries that add a spicy twist to the action, Wimbledon 2024 will have it all. Buckle up and grab your strawberries and cream as this preview gives you an early look at some matches, players, and moments you won't want to miss. Let's dive into the heart of the action and see how it’s going down at SW19 this year.

Three First Round Men’s Matches to Watch

Gael Monfils vs Adrian Mannarino (22)

It’s a shame that fellow countrymen have to square off against each other in the first round, but sometimes that’s just how the luck of the draw goes. In this case Monfils and Mannarino will battle it out for the eighth time in their careers. Mannarino, the seeded player, will face a challenge against Monfils who leads the head to head 5-2. Monfils has lowkey hinted at retirement over the past year or so, and at thirty-seven, you have to wonder how much longer he’ll be around. Mannarino is thirty-five respectively, so all the more reason it’s unfortunate one of these guys will make a first round exit. Regardless, this should be an entertaining match, I don’t expect either player to go down without a fight.

Andy Murray vs Tomas Machac

In typical Andy Murray fashion, he’s finding a way to tough out what’s likely to be his last Wimbledon, just weeks after having back surgery to have a cyst removed. Murray, 37, is defying the odds once again, and is carefully monitoring how his body is responding post surgery. If he needs to make a game time decision about singles he will, and is listed to play doubles with his brother Jamie. Even if Murray is healthy enough to make a singles appearance, his first round match will be a tough one against Tomas Machac who leads the head to head 2-0.

Murray and Machac met earlier this year in Miami, where Machac won in a third set tiebreak. Both matches have been close between these two, but in a five set format, you’d have to give the reasonable edge to Machac, who also scored a huge upset against Novak Djokovic at Geneva in May. Tomas Machac will have youth on his side and will certainly be a tedious matchup for Murray in the first round, however you can never underestimate the heart of Andy Murray or his will to fight. Whenever Murray’s time comes, he’ll get the deserved acknowledgement and appreciation that’s owed to him for the entire tennis world to see, in front of his countrymen, just as it should be.

Novak Djokovic (2) vs Vit Kopriva (Q)

24 time Grand Slam Champion Novak Djokovic will make his return to action after having knee surgery (supposedly) to repair the torn meniscus ligament he suffered at the French Open just three weeks ago. Aside from the aforementioned Andy Murray, if there’s anyone who’s going to heal as fast as a liquid metal terminator, it’s going to be Djokovic. He’s been practicing at the All England Club as if nothing ever happened, and based on the clips I’ve seen, it looks like nothing ever happened. Novak will still need to be reckoned with by the rest of the field, and shouldn’t go underestimated because of a pesky little knee surgery.

I call this match out for a few reasons. While I don’t expect Kopriva to give even a lightly hobbled Djokovic much trouble, live match play will be the true barometer to determine where Djokovic is in his recovery, and what his knee is truly capable of. I’m guessing anything and everything. Djokovic hasn’t seen Kopriva face to face, so he could prove to be a bit of an anomaly for him. If Kopriva can get Djokovic on the run, it could mean trouble, if not now, perhaps later for Djokovic if the knee isn’t fully healed. 

Kopriva comes in ranked 123 in the world and that might not mean much unless you’re superstitious. Luka Nardi was also ranked 123 earlier this year when he ran Djokovic ragged at Indian Wells on two good knees. I’m sure it’s just a coincidence. I’m sure Djokvic’s doctors will marvel at his recovery. I’m sure he’ll be just fine three weeks after surgery and will wreak havoc as he chases his 25th Grand Slam title. The good news is, in having surgery, Djokovic embraced science, but only when it was convenient for him to do so of course.

Other good R1 matches worth mentioning:
Sebastian Korda (20) vs Giovanni Mpetshi-Perricard (LL)
Felix Auger-Aliassime (17) vs Thanasi Kokkinakis
Grigor Dimitrov (10) vs Dusan Lajovic

Three First Round Women’s Matches to Watch

Iga Swiatek vs Sofia Kenin

We’ve got a heavyweight showdown straight from the jump as Iga Swiatek, fresh off her fourth Roland Garros crown, squares up against Sofia Kenin, the 2020 Australian Open champ, on Day 2. It's a rematch of the 2020 French Open final and this year's first-round clash in Melbourne. At the time, Swiatek was riding a 19-match win streak, and edged out Kenin in a tight first-set tiebreak and would go on to win the match in straight sets, setting her career record against Kenin at 2-0. 

Although Kenin has been a bit up and down this season and continues to find the consistency that made her a Grand Slam champion and top five player just four years ago, she’s always dangerous. Considering Swiatek has yet to master grass courts, there could be an opportunity for Kenin to disrupt Swiatek. She’ll have to play near perfect tennis and we all know how difficult Swiatek makes that to do. Nonetheless, this should make for an interesting and entertaining first round match.

Alja Tomljanovic vs Jelena Ostapenko

It’s uncanny that the tennis gods would pair Tomljanovic and Ostapenko up in the first round of Wimbledon after the two had static in 2021. If you recall, Tomljanovic accused Ostapenko of faking an injury to break her momentum while she was up 4-0 in the third set. Tomljanovic would go on to win the match, but the two would have words at the net, and would throw some additional fuel on the fire in their respective post match pressers. 

Tomljanovic enters this year as a wild card and is coming off a great run last week in Birmingham, bagging four wins straight until Yulia Putintseva shut her down in the final. She’s also made two quarter finals appearances at Wimbledon, she definitely has good vibes with grass courts and she's hungry to prove herself on this big stage once again. 

Ostapenko, a Grand Slam winner in her own right, is capable of beating anyone when she’s on. She’s won the last two encounters with Tomljanovic since 2021, and is looking to keep that streak alive. Although three years have passed, I’m sure the memories from 2021 are still there. It will be interesting to see if the sparks fly again between these two.

Paula Badosa vs Karolina Muchova

After dealing a significant back injury, Paula Badosa seems to be inching her way back to health and is trying to regain the form that made her a world number 2 player. After good showings at the French Open and Bad Homburg, Badosa is looking to keep the momentum going, and re-establish herself on the grass at Wimbledon. 

Karolina Muchova, like Badosa, has been out injured much of the year after undergoing surgery on her right wrist. Muchova was having a good run at Eastbourne last week, appearing to be in good form after two rounds, but withdrew as a precaution before her quarterfinal match against Madison Keys.

These two players have been through a lot with injuries the past two years and still have some great tennis in them if they can get and stay healthy. Badosa’s solid baseline game makes her a constant threat, and Muchova’s dynamic game enables her to adjust and throw different looks at her opponents. It’s unfortunate one of these players will get bounced in the first round, but the hope is that they both get through Wimbledon unscathed physically, and are able to be consistent figures on tour the rest of the year.

Other good R1 matches worth mentioning:
Magda Linette vs Elina Svitolina
Ekaterina Alexandrova vs Emma Raducanu
Naomi Osaka vs Diane Parry

Players to Keep an Eye On

Tommy Paul

Tommy Paul’s commitment to the game is paying big dividends as he captured his third tour level title and catapulted to the new American number one slot after capturing the cinch Championship title in London last week. Paul is playing to his potential and is poised to make a big run at a Grand Slam, this could be a good time to do it.

Jessica Pegula

Although Jessica Pegula let her second round match against Emma Raducanu get away from her at Eastbourne last week, she played well coming off her tournament win in Berlin the week before. Even though she faded against Raducanu, I do think her flat hitting style is well suited for grass courts. Pegula had a strong run last year losing in the quarters to eventual champion, Marketa Vondrousova. Let’s hope she has unfinished business and makes a deep run this year.

Men’s Singles Predictions

  1. Look for the usual cast of characters to make it through to the later rounds, especially the top four seeds (Sinner, Djokovic, Alcaraz, Zverev). I think they should all survive to at least the quarterfinals, assuming Djokovic doesn’t have any setbacks with his knee.
  2. American men come through. I’m expecting a deep run from one, if not more, American men at Wimbledon. Taylor Fritz and Tommy Paul both have captured trophies on grass this season. Frances Tiafoe and Ben Shelton are always dangerous, and Chris Eubanks could catch fire and go on another whimsical run. 
  3. When the smoke clears after two weeks, my pick is unfortunately a simple one. With Sinner and Alcaraz on the same side of the draw and doubt about Djokovic making it through seven rounds of potentially five set matches, I see us in for a repeat of the  French Open final between Alcaraz and Zverev. And you know I'm rockin with the champ. Winner: Carlos Alcaraz

Women’s Singles Predictions

  1. Don’t ask me why, but I have this hunch that there’s going to be a major collapse of the favorites at Wimbledon on the women’s side this year. I’m calling for Swiatek, Rybakina, and Sabalenka to not make it to the final. I think Swiatek is beatable on this surface, and I have concerns about Sabalenka (shoulder) and Rybakina holding up physically over the next two weeks. Call it a hunch, but it’s about to be a wild ride on the women’s draw.
  2. Look for the top 20 - 50 players to be disruptors, pretty much anyone who’s last name starts or ends with a K or a C. Collins, Kenin, Kasatkina, Kalinskaya, Keys, Krejcikova, and Katie are all looking to make some noise at SW19. There are also a handful of veterans (Svitolina, Azarenka, Pliskova) who aren’t going anywhere and understand this surface well enough to do some damage. I’m telling you, it’s about to be real messy on the women’s side.
  3. I’m a believer in the talent and skill of the top four players in the world, I just have doubts about some of them on this surface. I also have a feeling that the number two will be the last one standing. I just feel it in my gut for some reason (it could also simply just be my empty stomach post workout), but I’m going with Coco Gauff to take home the Venus Rosewater dish this year. If she utilizes all aspects of her game and serves well, especially in the later rounds, she can win this thing. Yeah, I said it. Winner: Coco Gauff

So that’s a wrap. As we gear up for another electrifying Wimbledon, the excitement is palpable, and the stakes are sky-high. The usual suspects are ready to reclaim their thrones, while rising stars are hungry for their moment in the sun. On the men’s side, the narrative will be dominated by the battle-hardened veterans like Djokovic and Murray, who, even after surgery, are still box office draws at Wimbledon. 

Meanwhile, Alcaraz, reigning champion, is ready to defend his title at all costs and isn’t afraid of anyone standing in his way of doing so. The stage is set for a potential repeat of the French Open final between Alcaraz and Zverev, but not if Jannik Sinner and American hopefuls like Taylor Fritz and Tommy Paul have anything to say about it.

On the women’s side, the unpredictability of this year’s tournament is what makes it so thrilling. The top seeds like Swiatek, Sabalenka, and Rybakina could face early exits, opening the door for other formidable contenders. Coco Gauff, with her versatile game and powerful serve, has a golden opportunity to capture her first Wimbledon title. The wiley veterans of the tour bring a wealth of experience to the court, and there are dark horses lurking and ready to upset the balance. This year’s women’s draw promises to be a wild ride, with potential surprises at every turn​​.

So, whether you’re rooting for the legends to reign or for the new blood to rise to the occasion, Wimbledon 2024 is set to deliver unforgettable moments. The grass courts of the All England Club are ready, the players are prepared, and the fans are eager. As the first balls are served and the matches unfold, one thing is certain – we’re in for a spectacular display of tennis, and we’re ready for it.

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